While Hed is better known for our wheels and components, there is another big project that we took on, which you may or may not be aware of. We have a deep knowledge and history of composites manufacturing, and we were approached by one of the benchmark frame companies to make what would become their most technologically advanced frame ever. It's called the Cervelo P5X.
Launched in October of 2016, the P5X set a new standard for an incredible combination of attributes - aerodynamics, optimal fit for a wide range of body types, ease of adjustment, braking technology, and if you don't mind us saying - aesthetics. Also, Cervelo had a very different approach to development than other frame companies, by taking over 14,000 photos of actual people in actual races - to see what positions they ride, and where they store their equipment. Triathlon has a unique set of demands, requiring that the athlete carry substantial amounts of water, calories, and spare parts for long distances. The P5X has a host of innovative storage options that are cleanly integrated with the bike, so there is no aerodynamic penalty to carrying whatever you need. Cervelo tells us that compared to their standard P5 bike, the P5X is barely faster when you look at the bike alone. However, when you put on a realistic amount of bottles and food on both bikes for a long-course triathlon - the P5X really shines and destroys the competition.
The P5X is made right in our own Minnesota factory, alongside our carbon wheels. We spoke with Hed engineer, Greg Alexander, who offered some additional insight into what makes the P5X so special.
Alexander said, "The opportunity to manufacture the P5X represented the convergence of two major Hed tenets.
First, despite our reputation as mostly a wheel company, Hed has always looked for ways to improve overall rider speed. This has materialized in many different ways, be it rider fittings, aerobar design, or our patents regarding strategic water bottle placement. We have never limited ourselves to wheels alone.
Second, a significant amount of the technology that we develop is in the manufacturing process itself. For example, we might say, 'let’s create a process that allows us to make carbon fiber products that are not currently possible.'
Cervelo wanted to open its development envelope using Hed’s manufacturing techniques. We wanted manufacturing to be a weapon and less of a constraint. The end result is a bike that is truly monocoque, with no lugs. No lungs mean less epoxy joining tubes together, and less carbon reinforcing these structurally vulnerable connections. We also use techniques to minimize post molding clean-up. We don’t use cosmetic filler (bondo) on frames or wheels. In fact, we don’t use any type of coating at all on our wheels. We are proud of our molding quality, and wouldn’t do anything to hide that from our customers. In the P5X, clean molding allows Cervelo to apply just a protective clear coat (instead of necessitating an opaque paint, to conceal blemishes). We appreciate that the clear coat allows for a viewing 'window' into our quality."